Benign conditions yielded low scores at St Andrews in the third round of the Open Championship. Who took advantage and went low? Lots. Who didn’t? Just a few. All in all, Monday at the Old Course is set up for a fantastic final round and hopefully a spectacular ending to the best major of the year (IMHO).
Jordan Spieth: His name isn’t atop the leaderboard, but young Spieth fired a six-under 66 to get himself back into the thick of things. He’s not only chasing the Claret Jug, but also a spot in the history books as he tries to become the first player since Ben Hogan in 1953 to win the first three majors of the year. Watch out — he found his putting stroke. We like his chances! I mean, would you bet against him? I dare you.
Paul Dunne: The 22-year-old amateur from Ireland fired an impressive six-under 66 to vault up the leaderboard with a share of the three-way, 54-hole lead. Who in the world is he? Well, we’re still trying to figure that out ourselves, but he is actually eight months older than Spieth — and no, he hasn’t won two majors yet (that slacker!). Dunne played college golf at University of Alabama-Birmingham, where he graduated with a degree in business finance, and finished 5th in the 2015 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship. He earned his way into the Open by playing his way through Final Qualifying. This actually isn’t Dunne’s first major, as he qualified for last year’s Open at Hoylake, but missed the cut.
“I’m well capable of shooting the scores that I need to win if everyone else doesn’t play their best,” said Dunne. “Whether it happens or not, I can’t really control. I can just go out and try to play my game and see where it leaves me at the end of the day. Hopefully I play great again and post a good number.”
Either way, he’s already a winner.
Jason Day: He’s the eighth player since WWII to either have or share the lead after 54 holes at both the U.S. Open and the Open Championship. Day, who battled vertigo at Chambers Bay, is feeling a little bit better this time around, though. Rather quietly, he shot a five-under 67 to co-lead with Dunne and Louis Oosthuizen heading into the final round. Though he’s a regular contender at the majors, with five top-10 finishes in the last 10, Day doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to closing out the big ones, but perhaps he will breakthrough on Monday to capture his first major title.
“I felt like I’ve learnt a lot (contending in majors the last few years),” said Day. “I think the biggest thing for me is just to — just understand that tomorrow is going to be a tough round. There’s going to be a lot of wind, there’s going to be a lot of rain, there’s going to be a lot of guys that are going to shoot low scores. It’s a pretty tight leaderboard if you look at it. There’s a lot of good players that are behind us trying to chase that lead. Trying not to get so absorbed and attached to the leaderboard, and pretty much what I did today, just to really stay patient and let the birdies come to you, really focus on what I need to do to try and get the ball as close to the pin as I can and give myself opportunities.
“It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be a good challenge. I think I need to just embrace it more. It’s hard to — as I was saying earlier, it’s hard to stay present in situations like this. It’s hard to not get out in front of yourself, especially tonight when you’re thinking and you’re laying in bed, even through the round tomorrow. It can be hard to stay present. That’s one key that I’m going to try and do the best I can is really just kind of focus on myself and be present as much as possible.”
Louis Oosthuizen: The South African cruised to his first and only major championship when the Open was last played at St Andrews, pulling away from the field to win by seven shots. It’s no surprise that he’s atop the leaderboard again going into the final round, but this time he has some company. Question is, can he pull away? We don’t see why not.
“Confidence-wise, knowing I’ve done it before at this golf course, I will take a lot from that,” he said. “But there’s a lot of golf that needs to be played. Jordan is obviously looking at making history, so you can expect him to fire on early and to really be up there. Jason is playing unbelievable. There’s so many players that can still win this. It’s going to be — I think it’s going to be one of the tightest Opens.”
Which means one of the most thrilling, hopefully!
ESPN: The worldwide leader extended its coverage of The Open and will kick off the telecast at 6 a.m. ET Monday (11am local) — well before BBC does. ESPN has done a fantastic job with its coverage, according to reports from those who are stateside. It has also added a three-hour encore airing of the telecast at 7 p.m. ET Monday night on ESPN2.
Dustin Johnson: Really, dude? In super easy conditions on Sunday, Johnson shot a three-over 75, which included bogeys on the last three holes, beating only one player in the field in the third round — someone named Ryan Fox posted 76.
But it was no surprise that nothing was really DJ’s fault.
“I didn’t feel like I played that bad,” he said. “Just couldn’t hole the putts. I felt like I was hitting good putts. They just weren’t going in the hole. There’s nothing you can really do about that. I was trying, but it was just one of those days where it felt like it played very easy out there today. Got a little tricky coming in, but the first 11 holes couldn’t have played any easier.”
He’ll need a low round Monday to claw his way back into contention now that he’s T18 and five shots back.
“I’m going to have to put together a special round tomorrow to have a chance,” said DJ. “But I’ll definitely be way out before the leaders, so get out early and put a — get off to a really good start maybe, you never know what happens. Anything can happen.”
Apparently he forgot Sunday was only the third round, not the usual final round, and decided to throw this major title away earlier than usual. Yikes. I’m just extremely bitter because I thought he would runaway with this one and there was no one he could give it away, not to mention I bet the most cash on him to win. Turns out I was wrong.
Danny Willett: The Englishman tried. He did his best and made the turn at two-under, adding another birdie on no. 10. But somehow, after that, he was three-over, with bogeys on nos. 13, 14 and 17. He’s only trailing by three shots, but with all the talent near the top, it’s hard to imagine he’ll be the one to come out from the pack.
Zach Johnson: Though he’s only three shots back, he went 13 holes without a birdie. At one point, he and Dustin were the only two players without any red numbers on the leaderboard in the third round. At least he knocked his pitch shot on 18 to tap-in range. He still had to settle for a two-under 70, which must have felt like something around a 77 on a day with such ideal scoring conditions.
Well, one things for sure — Monday’s final round will be incredibly entertaining. Who you got?